Reliving the 90s Love in 2020: An Interview with Arpit Vageria, National Bestselling Novelist

The step is all about making the non-reader a reader. It's all about reaching towards the first book.

Arpit Vageria is a National bestselling Novelist and Television writer. He is known for his romantic fiction I Still Think About You (2016), You Are My Reason To Smile (2017), and Be My Perfect Ending (2017).

He holds an MBA degree from IBS Mumbai and is originally from Indore. He has written many television shows and award functions as well. He has recently launched his latest book, The Girl Next Door, which is the first Indian lockdown love story to get published.

I have tried to summarise love in one sentence in my latest book The Girl Next Door, where one character Ruhi asks Ishaan, "Do you know what love is?" Ishaan answers, "It's when I start a sentence, and you finish it.", he says.

Quillopia had a wonderful time with him discussing love fiction and his incredible life journey.

"Whenever I am writing any sort of fiction, I always try to put a part of my life. If not mine, maybe somebody else's because I always want to keep my novels relatable," he quips.

We are really curious to know about your journey from an MBA student to the best selling author. What motivated you to become one?

Many things motivated me to become a writer. The primary reason for me being a writer is that I wanted to tell many stories to the world. I have always been one of those kids who was brought up while listening to stories. So, that is how many connections to the stories began. I was always that person who would find much more comfort in fiction than the real world, who always wanted to belong to Hogwarts University in Harry Potter. I was waiting for my letter too; whenever I used to go to the railway station, I would look for platform no. 9 ¾. I always found fiction a much better world than the real world. That's how I got connected to stories right from my childhood.

MBA was just a coincidence for me, prior to that I was trying to do a CA but wasn't very good at it. I purposefully wanted to flunk those exams. I aimed for satisfactory marks in my CAT examinations just to prove the world and eventually got admitted into an MBA college. I got an outstanding job from the college that paid well but was not satisfactory to me. That is not something I wanted to do with my life. During that time, I was already writing a story, which I wanted to gift to my first girlfriend. That is how I started writing. The book got published and got positive feedback. Moreover, TV producers were calling me to write TV shows for them. That is how my journey of being a writer started.

How often do you relate your real and personal life with your work of fiction?

Whenever I write any sort of fiction, I always try to put a part of my life into that. If not mine, maybe somebody else's because I always want to keep my novels very relatable. If my readers can't relate to my novel, my book is of no use. My readers have come up and said that they think my novels belong to their lives. That's the best comment a writer could ever receive. I put some of my real life in my book, You are my reason to smile and Be my Perfect Ending. However, my latest book, The Girl Next Door, is complete work of fiction; then again, it has something to do with my Friend's life. My works will always have a pinch of reality.

Your novels have always allured its readers with the profound power of love. What other genres and areas of storytelling fascinate you? Are you planning on experimenting with the genre of your writing and surprise your readers with it?

Though I like writing love stories and romantic thrillers the most, I would like to try and give an attempt to write fantasy: a complete fantasy, a different world. My book I Still Think About You has certain moments that are wholly fantasized. I will probably try to write and create my world like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Twilight, etc. That's a different world, and I would like to make a world of my own. Not sure after how many years, but I will do that.

What is your ideal notion of love? Are they any similar to your past works like I still Think about you, Be my perfect Ending, and You are My Reason to Smile? Has it changed since your first book? Is it still the same?

Love is that particular innate emotion that keeps surprising you every day and every minute of life. You will always be a student of love, never a teacher of love. Many of my readers call me "Love Guru." I say nobody can be a love guru in this world. Everybody is a student of love. You can fall in love with a stranger at a glance; at times, you live with a person for the last ten years and are not still in love with them. Love keeps me telling that no matter how much you love anyone, it would never be enough. Just try your best.

I have tried to summarise love in one sentence in my latest book The Girl Next Door, where one character Ruhi asks Ishaan, "Do you know what love is?" Ishaan answers, "It's when I start a sentence, and you finish it."

Your new book released this September, The Girl Next Door (2020). Would you like to talk about it?

This book is a Lockdown love story. I would say it is the first-ever Indian lockdown love story to get published. The beautiful part of writing this story down is that I started writing it even before Lockdown got implemented in India. You may find it hard to believe, but COVID-19 started spreading its tentacles by January in China and western countries. In the last week of January or the first of February, I understood the meaning of the word "Lockdown." I was curious about it and researched it; I finally understood that Lockdown has specific rules, the entire country is under Lockdown, and no one is allowed to step outside of the house. This particular concept struck me, what if I write a lockdown story someday, in which the girl and the guy are meeting for the first time, and they are not even meeting; they can only see each other. Wouldn't that be the kind of love story that we generally witnessed in the 90s? That was the time of terrace love; we used to live three or four houses away; we used to send them letters. The Girl Next Door is basically in one line "90s love in 2020". The love we used to have in the 90s has returned because of the Lockdown.

The male protagonist, Ishaan, is a retired RJ, just 28 years old, and wants to take a break in his career. When everyone in the world wants to go back to their home, Ishaan didn't go because of a particular incident 15 years ago. But he comes back with all the family drama and pressure and falls in love with the daughter of Chief Minister, Ruhi living in the same street.

As we all know, there are many differences between being a screenwriter and a novelist. If given a choice, which one would you like to choose as a full-time or prefer one over another? Which one do you enjoy most?

I will always take novel writing as my priority if it pays me well as TV writing does. Novel writing is my first love; I would surely opt for novel writing because it has actually shown me direction toward writing. It's only because of that I understand that certain thoughts keep popping, and I love to write it. I want to stay loyal to it and enjoy it the most.

What is your opinion on the contemporary scope of Indian English writing?

I think it's beautiful that the scope of English literature is increasing, and for it to grow, we need to take necessary steps.

The first step would be to tell the youngsters about the importance of the stories. How much of a story or reality is written in the form of a novel can change lives. But the problem is that when you get into a school, our education system is like that the books border us and you start hating it.

The kind of population we have, at least half of it should be adhered to the readership. And when that would happen, writers would actually start living the kind of life they deserve. The step is all about making the non-reader a reader. It's all about reaching the first book. And I am proud that I could convert some non-readers to readers with my books, and they did not just stop with me.

How would you like to encourage the budding writers? Any piece of advice for them?

For anybody, I would like to suggest, read lots and lots of books. There might be times when you want to give up, but if you genuinely want to tell a story, never stop. But if you're going to pick it up just because of money or fame, Don't do that. Only if you have the urge to tell the story to the entire world, only then pick up writing.

There is also one offer I can generally make for aspiring writers to contact me anytime and get any help, always get in touch with me. I am also ready to mentor them without monetary benefits to put their first steps into the industry.

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Interviewed by Arolina Bhubaneswari

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